Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Maori Mountaineers of South Westland - New Zealand

Between 1990 and 1993 I did considerable research on the subject of Maori Mountaineers in New Zealand. The amazing discovery I made was that one small community in South Westland,New Zealand, in Heretaniwha (Bruce Bay), Hunts Beach, Mahitahi and Jacobs River, together made a huge contribution to New Zealand mountain exploration. I published this in the 1993 New Zealand Alpine Journal.


Bruce Bay was where most of the Maori mountaineers lived. Supplies would come in by ship and be unloaded by smaller boats.


Photographs of families at Bruce Bay waiting for the monthly supply ship.

They lived in a remote corner of South Westland in small settlements of Heretaniwha (Bruce Bay), Hunts Beach, Mahitahi/Makaawhio and Jacobs River and together made a huge contribution to New Zealand mountain exploration. Most are descendents of Te Koeti Turanga.
Colonial historians and explorers undervalued the contribution of Maori guides and companions and writers such as Charlie Douglas, Edward Fitzgerald, Arthur P. Harper and John Pascoe, clearly denigrated the Maori role in mountain exploration and later, mountain guiding. Gerhard Mueller and Thomas Brunner were notable exceptions. Mueller writes with brotherly love about his companions Kere Tutuko and Werita Tainui, and valued their skills and friendship. ‘To Ekehu I owe my life — he is a faithful and attached servant,’ wrote the ever humble Brunner. 2
So many early writers missed out key information which would have proved so clearly that the Maori were ex-perienced mountain people. Take Gerhard Mueller’s friend Kere Tutoko. 3
In 1835, as a 12-year-old, he travelled up the Grey River, on to Kotuku and up the Taramakau River to Harpers Pass, down the North Branch of the
Hurunui, past Lake Sumner, until it reached the Waitohi tributary and so onto Kaiapohia (Kaiapoi). Yet writ ers like Arthur P. Harper, in his book Memories of Mountains and Men, write of the first crossing of the Southern Alps in 1857, when the Maori had been crossing the Main Divide for centuries. This is typical of many reports of colonial exploration where Europeans were not discovering, rather retracing existing Maori routes.The outdoor skills of the South Westland Maori were not confined to the bush and mountains; they also travelled regularly along the coastline by canoe. Kere Tutuko, his brother-in-law Te Koeti Turanga(painting below) and his grandfather Tuarohe, were highly-skilled canoe builders. .
Records show that they made regular sea voyages from Bruce Bay to Te Horo and Anita Bay in Milford Sound.3
The inquisitive exploratory spirit of the early Maori took them to all the remote corners of the South Island, and they quickly gained first-hand knowledge of snow and ice


The mana and beauty of the Pounamu was an added attraction to cross the Divide again and again, all the while gathering further alpine experience. Their pre-European glossary of snow and ice, whilst not as comprehensive as the Inuit (Eskimo), certainly proved that they had rubbed their paraerae (sandals) on the high mountain passes. Whenuahuka described the permanent snow on the high peaks and hukapapa was the name for the huge snowfields. The snow slides from the high peaks were hukamania, and as they grew and took on avalanche proportions, they became hukahoro. The glaciers that drained the snowfields were called hukapo, the glacial sediment waiparahoaka and the snow-fed water, waihuka. Kipakanui, or ice, was seen in the shady valleys in winter, and the thick ice which never saw the sun was named waiuka, meaning solid water. 5
One of the first Europeans to record contact with Chief Te Koeti Turanga, who married Ripeka Patiere, daughter of Tutuko, was Gerhard Mueller, in October 1865, when he stayed at Bruce Bay. lThe first contact modern mountaineers had with the Te Koeti family was in 1895 when the British mountaineer Edward Fitzgerald, with his Swiss guide Mattius Zurbriggen, met Dan Te Koeti, one of four brothers, at the Scott’s homestead in the Karangarua River valley. Fitzgerald was impressed from the outset: ‘Certainly if his physique is a typical instance of that of the Maori race, a fine race of alpine guides might be cultivated from them.’ 6
This was a prophetic statement from the astute Fitzgerald as Dan and his two brothers Mark and Butler (Buck) Te Koeti, all became guides and mountain men in every sense.Dan Te Koeti accompanied Fitzgerald, Zurbriggen and Arthur P. Harper for the next leg of their journey which took them down the Karangarua River to the sea, along the coast to Gillespies Beach and up the Fox Glacier to Chancellor Ridge. Fitzgerald, not known for his favourable comment about New Zealand mountaineers, comments of Dan’s ability, ‘I was surprised to see how well he walked on the ice where he seemed to be quite at home, though I understood that this was the first time he had ever attempted in his life’ ... and later ‘He was an immensely powerful lad; indeed I was told by Scott that he had carried iron pipes, weighing 140 lbs, up a steep hill in the neighbourhood of the homestead.’ 6
What Fitzgerald didn’t realise was that Dan had spent a 1ot of his time as a shepherd for Andrew Scott grazing sheep in alpine vegetation in areas up to 5000 ft. He discovered much new land, some of it snow covered, so he wasn’t a stranger to snow. One feature he discovered as a shepherd was an alpine lake, situated at just over 4000ft and feeding into the Makawhio (Jacobs) River. Arthur P. Harper named the lake after Dan, Lake Rototekoiti.3

The misspelling of Te Koeti still appears on today’s maps.

Two years later, in October 1894, Ruera Te Naihi, another relative of the Te Koeti brothers, also known as Bill the Maori, joined Charlie Douglas and Arthur P. Harper on their exploration of the Karangarua.
Douglas, struck by ill health again, left Harper and Ruera Te Naihi (photo left) to complete the exploration of the Karangarua and the Twain glaciers that drained the snowfields were called hukapo, the glacial sediment waiparahoaka and the snow-fed water, waihuka. Kipakanui, or ice, was seen in the shady valleys in winter, and the thick ice which never saw the sun was named waiuka, meaning solid water. 5
One of the first Europeans to record contact with Chief Te Koeti Turanga, who married Ripeka Patiere, daughter of Tutuko, was Gerhard Mueller, in October 1865, when he stayed at Bruce Bay. l
The first contact modern mountaineers had with the Te Koeti family was in 1895 when the British mountaineer Edward Fitzgerald, with his Swiss guide Mattius Zurbriggen, met Dan Te Koeti, one of four brothers, at the Scott’s homestead in the Karangarua River valley. Fitzgerald was impressed from the outset: ‘Certainly if his physique is a typical instance of that of the Maori race, a fine race of alpine guides might be cultivated from them.’ 6
This was a prophetic statement from the astute Fitzgerald as Dan and his two brothers Mark and Butler (Buck) Te Koeti, all became guides and mountain men in every sense.Dan Te Koeti accompanied Fitzgerald, Zurbriggen and Arthur P. Harper for the next leg of their journey which took them down the Karangarua River to the sea, along the coast to Gillespies Beach and up the Fox Glacier to
Chancellor Ridge. Fitzgerald, not known for his favourable comment about New Zealand mountaineers, comments of Dan’s ability, ‘I was surprised to see how well he walked on the ice where he seemed to be quite at home, though I understood that this was the first time he had ever attempted in his life’ ... and later ‘He was an immensely powerful lad; indeed I was told by Scott that he had carried iron pipes, weighing 140 lbs, up a steep hill in the neighbourhood of the homestead.’ 6
What Fitzgerald didn’t realise was that Dan had spent a 1ot of his time as a shepherd for Andrew Scott grazing sheep in alpine vegetation in areas up to 5000 ft. He discovered much new land, some of it snow covered, so he wasn’t a stranger to snow. One feature he discovered as a shepherd was an alpine lake, situated at just over 4000ft and feeding into the Makawhio (Jacobs) River. Arthur P. Harper named the lake after Dan, Lake Rototekoiti.3

The misspelling of Te Koeti still appears on today’s maps.

Two years later, in October 1894, Ruera Te Naihi, another relative of the Te Koeti brothers, also known as Bill the Maori, joined Charlie Douglas and Arthur P. Harper on their exploration of the Karangarua. Douglas, struck by ill health again, left Harper and Ruera Te Naihi to complete the exploration of the Karangarua and the Twain
valleys and they returned to Scott’s homestead the following year after 19 weeks in the hi1ls.7


Hapū members at Makaawhio in 1906


Trish McCormack, in her book, The Maori in Westland. 81982 writes:’ Ruera Te Naihi’s assistance to Arthur P. Harper in packing loads and procuring food has largely been forgot-ten’… and later … ‘From Harper’s account of this expedition some of the sterling characteristics of his Maori companion emerge. Unfortunately Harper showed a somewhat condescending attitude to Bill, in view of the the fact that he was not a highly skilled mountaineer like himself.’Ruera Te Naihi later became a ferryman at the Waiatoto River, but was tragically drowned some years later.
The next to make his mark in mountaineering was Butler Te Koeti, brother of Dan, Mark and George. In 1905, fellow South Westlander and close friend Guide Peter Graham, invited Butler to work with him as a guide at the Hermitage. The Maori families of Bruce Bay, Hunt’s Beach, Mahitahi and Jacksons Bay had, over the years, become close friends of the Graham family. This relationship started in the mid 1860s when David Millar Graham, father of guides Peter and Alec Graham, was shipwrecked at Jackson Bay after rowing and sailing round the South Island in an open whaler. Both Peter and Alec Graham acknowledge this in their respective books.9, 10A quote from Alec’s book shows their respect:‘Fortunately for them there were a few Maoris at the Bay and to their kindness they owed their lives. The Maoris helped them make a Mai-Mai and provided them food. My father never forgot their kindness and ever after had the greatest respect and kindness for the Maoris.’

In 1905, Butler Te Koeti and Peter Graham guided Annie Lindon onto Glacier Dome and also took her on the third crossing of Barron Saddle. One of the legendary feats he left was his crossing of Copland Pass from the Hermitage to Jacobs River in 15 hours when there was no formed Copland track. After spending a night with friends and family he returned to the Hermitage the next day again via the Copland Pass. 8

Roads were almost non-existant in South Westland, and beaches such as Gillespie's beach were used as roads.

Unfortunately, a number of Butler Te Koeti’s mountaineering achievements went either unrecorded, or need to be unravelled from being recorded incorrectly. In the publication, Jubilee History of South Canterbury, by Anderson, his name is recorded as B. Kosti, 8and to future generations it would be easy to surmise that Kosti was an Italian guide.Butler Te Koeti enjoyed his mountain guiding and later brought his young nephew George Bannister, who was just 17 at the time, to work at the Hermitage. George quickly teamed up with fellow South Westlander and guide Darby Thomson of Ross, who knew the Te Koeti and Bannister families well. George Bannister quickly learnt the trade of mountain guiding with the first traverse of Nun’s Veil, the fourth ascent of Elie de Beaumont, seventh ascent of Footstool, the third ascent of Walter and Green, 8 but his great moment was yet to come.
In February 1912, Samuel Turner returned to the Hermitage to attempt his second ascent of Mount Cook, this time by the Linda Glacier route. He chose, for his guides, Darby Thomson, who climbed Mt Cook five times before his untimely death on Mt Cook in 1914, and l8-year-old George Bannister. In the early afternoon of 27 February, 1912, George Bannister stepped onto the summit of Mount Cook, and looked towards his birth place.


It was a special moment — he was the first Maori to climb Aoraki, pictured above. It was a perfect day and it is quite likely he would have seen Mt Tutoko in the distance, named after his great-grandfather. His client, Samuel Turner, describes the moment: ‘lt was a glorious day and a more glorious view. It pleased Bannister so much that he could not attempt a description. It was the tirst time a Maori had reached the summit of Aorangi, Cloudpiercer, or the long white cloud, as his forefathers called it, and afterwards called Mount Cook; but although most of New Zealand is now owned by white men, some of whom do not know the consideration due to the native race, nevertheless the mountains were never bought from the Maoris, and must belong to that race still.’ 11George Bannister must have mourned the loss of his friend and fellow guide Darby Thomson when he was killed by an avalanche on the Linda Glacier, while descending Mt Cook in 1914. It was also the year George walked
from Bruce Bay to Hokitika to enlist for the First World War, only to be told by the doctor he had flat feet and would never be able to do long route marches. George promptly walked back home, completing the 400km walk
in about a week.l2 However, nine others of his extended family were accepted to fight for their country. Two of them became famous when Butler Te Koeti and Dave Bannister competed in an unofficial world wood chopping championship in Niepe Forest in France on 9 April, 1916. The reigning world champion axeman, serving in the Canadian Army, challenged the best axeman in the British Empire. He wasn’t to know that two New Zealand Maori from South Westland had been wood chopping all their lives. The crowd was stunned when the brash Canadian lumberjack was beaten. Butler was placed first and Dave second.
3
George Bannister was later recorded as doing the first ascent of the high peak Mt Lyttle with Tom Sheeran in 1931 while he was building the Douglas Rock Hut in the Copland Valley. Guide Mick Bowie tells of the way the hut was constructed.‘They selected suitable totara trees, felled them, and somehow took them to a large rock about quarter of a mile from the hut site. Here they arranged a sawing pit, cut them with a pit saw into lengths and thicknesses needed, and without waiting for the timber to dry, carried the boards back to the site, and built the hut. The roofing iron was taken up the valley by packhorse.’
Mick Bowie also recounts the story of George Bannister carrying a 100 pound roll of malthoid on his back and treating it like a feather. Mick, carrying only a small pack himself, had trouble keeping up with George on the journey from Welcome Flat to Douglas Rock.
8
Perhaps the last comments on George Bannister are best left to an outstanding female climber of that era, Dora De Beer of Dunedin, who wrote the following in the 1954 New Zealand Alpine Club Journal about Lyttle Peak, Navigator Range.‘George was a gentle, attractive giant, partly Maori. He had been a guide, and was at the time working on the new hut erected to replace the old bivouac at Douglas Rock. He helped cut the track up the Ruera, and once at least, George visited our camp (1931) there bringing mail and stores, also a delicious soda loaf he had baked in a camp oven. He died a short time afterward, and the rock in the Ruera (Bannister’s Rock) we named after him.’ 13
George Bannister is buried in the Whataroa cemetery, alongside members of the other great West Coast guiding family, the Grahams. And, on a fine day the high peaks they spent so much of their time near, watch over the graveyard. Jim and Bill Bannister, both brothers of George, contributed to the mountain scene. Jim was on the third ascent of Mt Sefton with Darby Thomson and Samuel Turner and Bill worked on the first Hooker Bridge.Bill Bannister’s trade as a bridge builder had taken him all over the country, and his work on the Hooker bridge was one he recalled fondly. In 1914, while his brother George was guiding at the Hermitage, Bill built the first wooden bridge over the Hooker. The bridge was carried away in an ice-flooded river in 1927. Bill’s son, Jack Bannister, still living at Mahitahi in South Westland, clearly remembers working with members of his own family and Dan, Mark and Butler Te Koeti, cutting tracks up the Copland Valley. “The tracks were so wide you could have driven a jeep up them,” he said. 12
For a number of South Westland Maori families it could be said that the Copland Valley was their second home for many years. They cut the early tracks, built the first Douglas Rock hut and were involved with subsequent
hut building at Welcome Flat, track upgrading, rescues and recreational hunting. But when the occasion was right, family climbing had its place.
Bob Wilson,* (* Bob died in late October 1991, shortly after proof-reading and approving this article) formerly of Hunts Beach and now living at Haast, recounts a story of a double crossing of the Copland Pass, when he was 12 years old, with Butler Te Koeti. “We were in at Douglas Rock hut and the conditions must have been right. Butler suggested we go over the Copland. We left very early in the morning, crossed the pass and went down to the Hooker Valley, recrossed the pass back to Douglas Rock and down to Welcome Flat late in the evening where our horses were waiting.
We rode back in the dark to Bruce Bay, arriving about 2
AM.17
In under 24 hours a 12-year-old boy had crossed the Copland Pass twice. The family history is full of amazing endurance feats — remembered by the old people, Mick Te Koeti, Bob and Kelly Wilson and Jack Bannister — but few have been written down.
Perhaps the most readily recalled name in Maori mountaineering is Joe Fluerty. In 1926, some entries began to appear in the Glacier Hotel visitor’s book under this name; the comment ‘packing stores’. Thus starts the illustrious guiding career of George Bannister’s cousin, a larger-than-life character, with a quick wit who soon became a master of step-cutting, learning much from Alec and Peter Graham. Surviving movie film footage shows the sheer brilliance of Joe’s step cutting in one sequence as he cuts up a vertical ice wall. The other outstanding mountain guide of the 1930s,Jack Cox, pays tribute to Joe’s skills, “I learned the art of step cutting on the daily glacier trips, with much help from Joe Fluerty who was a master of all climbing skills.” 14
People liked Joe Fluerty. His trips were fun, safe and comments in hut books written by his clients, record great enjoyment and fun on his trips. There is a wealth of information available on Joe Fluerty, who in his 18 year guiding career, touched the lives of so many people.Joe started off his career by packing tins of kerosene and food to huts, glacier guiding and guided ascents of peaks like Moltke, Roon, Drummond and St Mildred, before graduating to the high peaks.Horo Koau, later named Mt Tasman by European settlers, is a mountain of special significance to the Maori
people of South Westland. It stands supreme over all the others, including Aoraki (Mt Cook) and is clearly visible from most parts of South Westland on a fine day. As a boy and young man, the view of Horo Koau became part of Joe Fluerty’s daily vista. Unlike Aoraki, which he considered tapu and once turned back close to the summit, 14 Horo Koau was a mountain he wanted to climb.On 10 March, 1932, Joe Fluerty, together with fellow guides Jack Cox and Jack Pope, did the first ascent of Mt Tasman from the West Coast side of the Divide. The Christchurch Press of 12 March describes the climb.
‘The party left the Glacier Hotel on March 8, for the Almer Hut, next day crossing over Newton Pass to the bivouac on the Pioneer ridge at the head of the Fox Glacier. On Thursday morning the party set out at 3AM, crossing the Fox Glacier neve, and ascending the steep couloir between Mt Tasman and Mt Lendenfeld, and reaching the Divide at Engineer’s Col. From here, except when negotiating an awkward schrund below the shelter of Mt Tasman, where the party was forced out on the east face, the main north-east arête was followed for its entire length, the ridge between the shoulder and the summit being exceedingly narrow. On the descent the party
deviated from its route at Engineers Col and made the complete traverse of Mt Lendenfeld to the bivouac… The whole climb occupied 11 hours 20minutes.’ 8
Next year Joe played a key role in the rescue of Mark Lysons, who broke his leg on Mt Goldsmith.14
In the one day, Joe helped carry Mark Lysons back to Almer Hut from near Teichelman’s Corner, splinted his leg in the hut, went to Franz Josef township to get a doctor and rescue party and returned to Almer Hut the same day. The next day he helped carry Mark out to the road. In January 1935, Joe, together with Mark Lysons, guided Molly Williams on the first traverse of Mt Haidinger, a long 21 1/2 hour climb.16 The following year Joe guided a Dr Bradshaw on an ascent of Lendenfeld.8
Apart from the numerous guided ascents achieved by Joe Fluerty, the one quality that fellow guides commented on was his uncanny navigation skills. Gar Graham, who still resides at Okarito, recalls a crossing of West Hoe
Pass in 1936, with Joe and two clients: “Joe led us over West Hoe Pass in complete white-out conditions and with an unerringly accurate sense of direction, led us to Chancellor Hut,” said Gar Graham.15
Gar also recounted the dark night that two tourists failed to turn up for dinner at the hotel, and Joe led Gar out to find them. “Around midnight Joe discovered the cold couple sitting under a bush, off the track up near the Callery River. He had found them without using a torch and to lead the couple back, he picked up a handful of glow worms, put them on his shoulder and told them to follow the lights back.”
As a teenage climber I remember older mountaineers who knew Joe Fluerty, saying that he was able to smell his way to Fox or Franz out of the high mountains. Dorothy Fletcher recalls her father, Alec Graham, saying that Joe knew whether people were in the hut or not, when he was some distance away. He would tell Alec that he could smell them.16
Jack Cox also talked of Joe’s keen sense of smell and superb navigation skills.Hundreds of quotes on Joe’s humour abound, and a typical one comes from a former client of his, the Rev. Bower-Black:“At my request, the Maori guide Joe Fluerty was assigned to us, and to say that we all liked him is a mild way of putting it. He is one of the senior guides, and has the Maori unfailing patience and good humour. He is capable and reliable, and his sturdy figure striding on ahead gave us a feeling of confidence and security. Joe was full of mischief and as ready as an Irishman with his tongue. ‘Why do you wear those pieces of cloth round your ankles?’ asked a rather gushing lady at one of the huts. ‘To keep the dust out of my eyes,’ retorted Joe. Whereat the boys gurgled gleefully and the lady took it in good part.’ 8
The Second World War disrupted the proud West Coast guiding tradition. Joe Fluerty enlisted, together with Mark Lysons. Joe never returned to Franz, and his fellow guide Mark Lysons, with whom he shared so many memorable climbs, was killed at Monte Cassino.16
Meanwhile, some fifty years after they started their apprenticeship with the mountains, Mark and Butler Te Koeti, in their early sixties at the end of the war, continued to do a lot of track work up the Copland, with Jack
Bannister and Bob Wilson, both of whom still live in South Westland.12
Arthur Graham describes a meeting with Mark Te Koeti in the Copland Valley.“In 1948, my cousin Stephen and I had crossed the Copland Pass and were slogging our way down the Karangarua Valley towards the main south highway. Some miles from the highway we came across old Mark Te Koeti who had, at that time, a contract to upgrade the track.“Neither of us were quite sure which of the old Te Koeti brothers we were talking to and it was obvious that Mark was equally puzzled as to who we were since we had not been in the district for many years. Imagine the light in his eyes when we told him we were the sons of Peter and Alec. ‘You’ll be wanting some tucker, lads,’ said Mark. ‘Take my horse and get down to the camp — there’s some cold mutton, bread and cheese — make yourselves at home and get a brew going. I’ll be along later.”“Sure we were hungry and there was no denying the warm sincerity of this fine old Maori, but to leave him to walk home was unthinkable.
“You’ll promise to get a feed at my camp then,” said Mark. We promised, and so, with handshakes all round we were on our way. The more we thought about the offer the more we disliked the idea of breaking into his hut. It was a tough decision and having finally arrived at the hut, we sat down to discuss the situation again. Yes, we must go on in otherwise Mark will be greatly offended... Mark turns up in the nick of time and we follow him into the hut. The billy is soon boiling and Steve and I do our best with the tucker and huge enamel mug of hot tea. There followed a friendly conversation, enquiries as to the health of our parents and reminiscences…”8
Today Jack Bannister, Bob and Kelly Wilson and Mick Te Koeti, all in their late sixties or seventies, continue to pass on the valuable knowledge of the the land, mountains, rivers and sea.

Wood chopping at Bruce Bay in 1990, when people from the extended whanau from all over New Zealand came to celebrate the history of this small community. Photo: Bob McKerrow




A small article in the West Coast Times, dated 3 September, 1991, shows that the Runanga Te Koeti O Turanga is still strong:
‘Four generations of Wilsons, a well known Westland Maori family gathered at Jacobs River last weekend for a double christening ceremony in the old church there. There was standing room only in the old church where 64 people gathered to witness the christening…’
Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi
A new generation takes the place of the old.

Sources:
1 Gerhard Mueller, My Dear Bannie
2 Philip Temple, New Zealand Explorers
3 A.A. Pullar, Wilderness Days in Bruce Bay
4 Keri Hulme of Okarito, personal conversation.
5 Barry Brailsford, Greenstone Trails
6 E.A. Fitzgerald, Climbs in the New Zealand Alps
7 John Pascoe, Mr Explorer Douglas
8 Trish McCormack, Maori in Westland
9 Alec Graham & Jim Wilson, Uncle Alec and the Grahams of Franz Josef

33 comments:

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Hi Bob I’m so glad for your safe return to Indonesia from your travels. Your logs on your trip were fantastic and informative. I hope you find time to come to the West Indies and explore. Give me a shout when you arrive in Barbados. I think this was a very impressive blog on Kiwi mountaineers. I gathered this much as well while in New Zealand that Mt. Cook is the Everest of New Zealand. It is, as it were, a training venue for aspiring mountaineers and Kiwis are naturally drawn to it. Thank you very must for your infusion of Maori language in the article. As an outsider I’m fascinated by the Maori language. I learned quite a bit of the language while there with the help of the many folks I had the pleasure of meeting. I even bought a book, “Teach Yourself Maori by the late K.T Harawira revised by Timoti Karetu. I love Maori music and I listen to their folks songs even now I’m back in my homeland. The Auckland Museum was a powerhouse for me in learning about the indigenous people of New Zealand. That museum is awesome I love the interactive platforms set up in the Auckland Museum to get across the knowledge one craves for when exploring the cultural roots and more of Kiwis.

Yes, history always tends to distort the facts to push hidden agendas and political gain. Indigenous people around the globe have been short changed in so many ways. The respect and recognition they deserved more often than not tend to be hijacked by others reaping what they did not plant. I am of the view that more than ever our cultural heritage is best explored by talking to old people in every ‘nook and cranny’. These old folks do not skew the facts and are most happy to go down memory lane with ardent listeners.

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Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Paterika

Thank you for your kind comments: you are a very caring person with such a love for my homeland. Yes, I will make an effort to visit the West Indies. Gary Sobers, Viv Riuchards, Merlene Ottley, George Kerr, Frank Worrell and of course the colourful Brian Lara, are all names of great West Indians who are etched in my mind.

I appreciated your comments on the Maori Mountaineers. Being Pakeha, with a little Maori blood in me, I have always been upset by the way colonial writers undervalued, or simply ignored, the role played by Maori.

I am pleased you have taken such an interest in Maori culture. It is such a rich oral culture and as you say, you have to take time to listen to the old people. I was fortunate that I lived on the West Coast of the South Island between 1990 and 1993 and was writing a book on Ebenezer Teichelmann and interviewed hundreds of elderly people, many of them Maori. Teichelmann was a doctor who covered 400 km of coastine on foot, by horse, cycle, boat and later car. The Maori people loved him dearly as he treated everyone as an equal. Being born on an Aboriginal reserve in South Australia of a german Lutheran father and Scottish wine and spirits merchant mother, he was brought up playing with Aboriginal children.

It's a fascinating world Paterika with so much to do, see. listen and learn.

As an aside, little did I know that when I climbed Mt. Ras Dashan, the highest peak in Ethiopia in 1974, that I was tredding on the sacred mountain of the Rastafarians. Many believe this is the mountain that Jah descended from. Now there is a West Indian connection, Jamaica if I am not mistaken.

You take care and keep your creative energy flowing.

Ka kite ano

Ropate (Bob)

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Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
I found your site via a comment you left on Pohangina Pete's blog. I really enjoyed this post, as I have just finished reading a book on Harry Ayres and the old days at the Hermitage. I have always been fascinated by the montaineering history of New Zealand and you have given me much new material to digest, and particularly the Maori perspective. I look forward to reading your blog. Have a great day.
Ka kite,
Robb

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Hi there Bob - I am Kara Edwards. Bob Wilson's Grandauter and Uncle Jack's niece - his sister Eva married Bob - which I'm sure you know. Great to see their photo - which I've saved. I used to have this one on my wall - but a relative stole it! Thanks for your lovely words and for sharing our rich history with such respect. I adored my grandfather - he was an incredible man.

Takke care Bob. Ka aroha, Kara

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Kara

What a pleasure to hear from you, the grand daughter of Bob Wilson. Bob and Kelly Wilson, and Jack Bannister were good friends and men I respected so much.

I had many a wonderful hour or two talking to them in Bruce Bay, Jackson's Bay, Okarito, Franz Josef and in Hokitika. Jack used to stay with me in my home in Hall Street in Hokitika. I have many notes I took of interviews I had with them and they figure in the book I wrote about the West Coast, on Ebenezer Teichelmann who was their doctor. He did monthly trips doiwn south by boat to care for Maori communities there.

Wonderful to hear from you.

Bob

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